Archive for ‘books and literature’

January 20, 2011

Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly

by f

Since I mentioned I couldn’t write book reviews, I’ve been doing nothing but writing book reviews. I’m going to crosspost this with another blog. I won’t make that a common thing. Obviously I don’t want my identity catching up with me, but this was too much to resist. Besides, it took me forever to write; I might as well get my bang for my buck.


As soon as I saw Revolution, I knew I had to buy it. There’s something haunting about both young women featured on the cover. (Whomever the cover artist was, they did a bang-up job.) Jennifer Donnelly previous YA novel, Northern Lights,  was based on the same real-life events that inspired Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.  Donnelly’s prose prose is very emotional and rich. I had high expectations for Revolution as a result, and the first few pages — hastily glimpsed at the Union Square Barnes and Nobles — didn’t disappoint.

Revolution’s protagonist is a damaged young woman, Andi.  Threatened with expulsion after an uninspired performance at her fancy-pants Brooklyn private school, her absentee father comes home from Paris to take her back there with him. He plans to supervise Andi as she writes her senior thesis, the one thing that stands between her and total scholastic ruin. She plans to write about the (fictional) French guitarist Mahlerbeau, with an emphasis on his connection to contemporary music.

Andi stays her father’s friend, G, in his Parisian loft. G, a historian, asks Andi’s father to investigate an urn he believes might contain the heart of King Louis XVI’s son, Louis Charles.

As Andi explores G’s loft, she finds two treasures: a priceless guitar, and a locked box containing a two-hundred-year-old diary.  The diary belongs to seventeen-year-old Alexandrine Paradis, an actress suddenly thrust into the politics of the revolution and royalty. From the moment Andi starts reading the diary, she feels a deep bond for its author.  The consequences of her find runs deep, and compose most of what is so wonderful about this novel.

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January 10, 2011

Jane, the remake

by f

When I first read Jane Eyre, I was fifteen. I remembering cheering for Bronte’s fiery heroine as she moved from one hot mess to another. Bronte’s wrote Jane as a survivor and a woman of incredible integrity. Her struggles captivated me as a young reader, and still thrill me now.

Last night, I saw Jane at my local bookstore. The cover features the heroine staring into a gray sky, her skirt askance, her long hair blowing in the wind. I didn’t have to read the jacket summary to know that Bronte was involved. At $24, however, Jane wasn’t cheap. I went home and bought the ebook this morning.

This version of Bronte’s classic is set in the present day American northeast. Jane Eyre is now Jane Moore, a struggling college dropout. Lindner begins with the death of Jane’s parents. Impoverished and unable to continue studying, she is forced to join a nanny agency.

The agency places Jane Moore with a girl named Maddy. Maddy is the daughter of the famous Nico Rathburn, an aging and eccentric rockstar just past his prime. Her job takes her to Thornfield, now transformed into a majestic estate in Connecticut. Its broodiness is faithfully similar to the original.

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January 3, 2011

A Heroine of Another Weight

by d

Desire Me (detail)It seems romance writers are more progressive than modelling agencies.

Sarah at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has just posted an entry about the changes in physical descriptions of heroines in romance novels over time.

My first encounters with female beauty in books was, as @joyabella noted when I asked this question on Twitter, the Wakefield twins. So many women found their gateway to romance in Sweet Valley High, and that gateway came with the constantly repeated and thus unfortunately inculcated reference to the “perfect size six figure.”

First, let me say on behalf of every woman with breasts and a backside: Fuck you and your six.

(Have I mentioned that I ADORE the Smart Bitches? Because I do, oh so much.)

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January 2, 2011

Untitled, by Marilyn Monroe

by f

I found this gem while looking through the excellent Fragments while at Barnes and Nobles today. The picture of Marilyn on that cover is arresting, but her mind seems to be as beautiful as she was.

December 20, 2010

Books for Lovers

by f

I was obvious about my intentions when I started this blog. I wanted to talk about sex. But books are better than sex sometimes. Not better, but different, and sometimes easier to handle.

A turn of phrase can get me unexpectedly horny for no good reason. Inappropriate places, too. I always turn to the line from Before Night Falls, where Arenas discusses how one of his partners and potential persecutors “dismissed him with his penis”. For a long time I took a cucumber and held it to my crotch, using my fake dick to try to dismiss others. It turned Arenas on; his prose salivates as he describes being dominated and tormented by his oppressors. Punishment and control can be sexy. Extreme control and punishment can be even sexier, something that produces resistance so sweet that the misery is almost worth it.

When I was young, I turned to books for emotional release. I needed to be loved. If not, I wanted to perceive others being loved. Different books held different promises of love for me. I turned to Dickens when I wanted to hold my ribs from being cracked open. I loved the Brontes (sometimes) for keeping me in the throes of real outrage. I adored Austen for her cool, clever quick-witted humor that hid quiet poignance.

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December 17, 2010

Interview: Alissa Jo Rindels, Part 3

by subterfusex

This is the third part of Alissa’s interview. In this segment, we discuss the larger context of her work, and how it relates to the mission of our site. We asked her questions pertaining to gender and personal artistic decisions. She answered us — as always — very honestly. As we wind down this interview, we’d like to thank Alissa once again for her participation and for the chance to talk about her amazing work.

What does “feminism” mean for you, and would you consider yourself a feminist?

Overall, I do believe in what feminism stands for. Everyone wants equal rights. I think feminism has gotten a bad rap, really; growing up the first thing I thought of when I thought of a “feminist” were the extremists who burned bras and were avid “man haters”.

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December 9, 2010

Why can’t I write about books?

by f

Photo by Patrick Gage. via Flickr/Commons.

I have a serious problem. I can’t write about books.

It might not be unfortunate if I weren’t such a prolific reader. But I am. I read at least two to three books a day. I do my work from a library. And not in just any library. Mine is one of the nicest in the state. (The library I go to, I mean. My own town library is a piece of shit. No, really. I don’t know where my obscene property taxes go. It’s crap.)

Books helped me survive my adolescence. I’ve written about it before, but it’s true and bears repeating. I would not be here if I had not been a reader. Literature has enriched me beyond anything I can express. Perhaps this is my problem. For me, books have always fallen under category of Things I Don’t Talk About. Others are always willing to discuss books. I am afraid to talk about them and I feel vulnerable when I do.

When Blogger became a popular blogging platform, I started a book blog. D, whose excellent book review site had already been live for years, served as an inspiration to me. She writes well and wittily on a wide variety of literature. I’d link to it if not for the identification issue.

For inspiration, I turned to my fellow book reviewers. Each time I saw a piece discussing a book I’d already finished, I made notes. Did I disagree? Could I write a better review? What did the person miss? With my critical eye out, I read, dissected, and then decided I would neatly avoid the traps others laid for themselves. I could write the great American Book Review.

Could I?

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December 7, 2010

Femme Funnies: Hipster Genesis

by d

More at

December 3, 2010

NaNoWriMo Under Attack…By Imbeciles

by V

The management would like to apologize for not running this during November. Trying to write novels really does get in the way of managing a blog.


via Flickr

As many of you know, there are a good number of NaNoWriMo participants among the Subterfuge members. I never really thought people who were disinterested in this event paid it much attention. Because, well…its something to do for fun and for novelty (no pun intended). By adhering to their guidelines, you can write that novel (or novella, really) that you’ve always planned on writing. Or, at least, you can attempt. Rather than putting it off. They cheer you on, you get motivational e-mails from established and well-known authors, there are write-ins at libraries, cafes, bookstores, and other places. Other participants cheer you on. There are helpful forums right on the official site for you to get encouragement, ideas, and whatnot. People work together, having word wars in chat to see who can write the most in spurts for a specific amount of time until you adjourn for another day. It’s a community with thousands of members. Some finish, some don’t. Some write brilliantly, others mediocre, and yes some people write crap. Some people do get published, others do not. Nobody is promised that they will be published. Nobody is promised that they will write an awesome novella. They are there just to try, for fun, for sport, out of boredom, to prove they can achieve a finished novella, or in hopes to really get published. But, no promises are made. And, everyone going into NaNoWriMo is aware exactly of what they’re going into. Every amateur author is already aware they are an amateur, but they try because they can and this is a perfect opportunity to do so where you can feel as if you are not alone in your attempt.

However, there are apparently some people who seek to disparage these authors. Who seek to tear down NaNoWriMo itself. Why do they do this? Well, I don’t know. I haven’t got that answer. I think its an awful lot of time to take out of your day to tear down something you profess to think is a waste of time in and of itself, anyway. But, everyone is entitled to their opinion. No matter how poorly written and researched.

One such person happens to be a Salon contributor, by the name of Laura Miller. I do not usually bother to make commentary on what authors of other sites say. But, as you here on Subterfuge know…I do once in a while lower myself and alleviate my boredom/amusement/outrage (not necessarily in that order) by doing so. And here I will do it again.

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November 9, 2010

A NaNo Update

by subterfusex

The participating Subterfugettes are hard at work on their novels, or busy cheering on those who are.

F has been corralling strangers to join us for Word Wars in a chat room.

D has become the defacto organizer for our local write-ins.

Roxy has also done her best to cajole and encourage, specifically…

V started off with a beautiful beginning, then dropped out. (Everyone must encourage her to write this story someday, if not today.)

Lastly, DahliaRoseMonroe got in the game several days late and has already out-written the rest of us.

Back to the word processor for us!

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